'Every Child Is an Artist': Sydney Picasso Pays a Visit to Pilot School

Pablo Picasso’s daughter-in-law spoke to students about the importance of art.


After studying the work of famed Spanish artist Pablo Picasso for most the school year, the 150 students of Pilot School in Wilmington got a special treat on Friday, May 18—a visit from his daughter-in-law Sydney Picasso.

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Sydney Picasso, an author, critic and artist, spoke about the importance of art in school and in everyday life. She stressed that art is “about transformation.”

“You have to dare to do it,” she said.

Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, experimented relentlessly with style and technique in his painting and sculptures. His example is a good one for Pilot students, said school director Alexandra Kokkoris, because “he shows that there is no one way.”

Nor is there one way for Pilot students. The school provides a learning environment tailored to elementary school-aged children with language-based learning differences who would otherwise struggle in a traditional school. At Pilot they benefit from classes of six students who each receive individualized attention.

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“Many of our students—like many artists—don’t always fit neatly into a box,” Kokkoris said. “They are unconventional learners with unique talents, struggles, skill sets and gifts.”

“Art is a different way of looking, a different way of seeing. Artists are different in many ways,” said Sam Sweet, CEO and executive director of Delaware Art Museum, who interviewed Ms. Picasso in the school amphitheater before the audience of students, teachers, staff and board members. “An artist will see something that other people don’t. That’s a real gift.”

Courtesy of Pilot School


The amphitheater was decorated gallery-style with student works inspired by the artist. As Sweet and Ms. Picasso spoke, a small group of students assembled a Picasso-style face that will be on display through the month. Each component resulted from a collaboration of all the students.

Ms. Picasso spent her childhood in Wilmington, where she attended Mrs. Tatnall’s School, predecessor of Tatnall School. At Mrs. Tatnall’s she was taught about art from local artist Bernie Felcher, who introduced her to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She later moved to Paris to further her studies.

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Picasso still lives in Paris. She is a board member of the Royal Drawing School, the International Councils of the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and a trustee of the China Art Foundation. She spoke about the critical nature of art in education, not only to nurture a child’s natural curiosity, but as a means of helping them develop academically. 

“Art clearly helps to cultivate a child’s creativity, but it also strengthens their problem-solving skills, teaches them both how to collaborate and work individually, helps them maintain focus and often gives them confidence—all of which are incredibly important life skills,” said Picasso.

“Pablo had a famous saying: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’ My hope is that these incredibly talented and engaged students will keep those artistic embers alive, and continue to create and explore for years to come.”

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